UN marks first International Day of Happiness

(Photo: Reuters / Singye Wangchuk)The Kingdom of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness index helped to inspired the UN International Day of Happiness.

The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for the international community to commit to inclusive and sustainable human development on the first International Day of Happiness.

"People around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want, and in harmony with nature," said Moon in his message marking the event.

"Yet, basic material well-being is still elusive for far too many living in extreme poverty. For many more, recurring socio-economic crises, violence and crime, environmental degradation and increasing threats of climate change are an ever-present threat."

Last year, the United Nations declared March 20 the first International Day of Happiness to stress the commitment of its 193 member states to "better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies."

The initiative was inspired by the adoption of a happiness index by the Kingdom of Bhutan, which adopted the Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product (GDP) as a measure of people's well-being.

The United Nations met in April 2012 on the topic "Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm." In July, Bhutan sponsored a UN resolution to state that GDP doesn't reflect the goal of happiness and to call for a "more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach." The resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

Canada, France and Britain have included measures of happiness to their official national statistics.

"I am encouraged by the efforts of some Governments to design policies based on comprehensive well-being indicators. I encourage others to follow suit," Moon said in the statement. "On this first International Day of Happiness, let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others.

"When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want."

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